WE.auburn, Preventing Violence from Happening On and Around Campus
Auburn University is leading an initiative called WE. auburn to prevent violence from happening on campus.
They’ve already reached out to 11,000 students, faculty and staff to teach them how to be an active bystander, which means say something or do something if you see something.
WE.auburn branched off from a national program called the Green Sot Initiative.
“Green Dot is a bystander intervention initiate to empower, educate, and activate bystanders when it comes to power based personal violence,” said Melissa McConaha, Coordinator of Student Programs Health Promotion and Wellness Services at Auburn University.
Power based personal violence is stalking and harassing, domestic violence and sexual assault.
“We think instead of naming people as potential perpetrators or potential victims that can be full of shame and blame and is not a good way to start the conversation. We can then tap into this collective desire to keep each other safe and contribute positively in our community by focusing on a bystander,” said McConaha.
The program was brought to Auburn University back in 2015 and they trained 40 facilitators.
Now, they are taking the skills they learned and teaching the Auburn family how to be an active bystander, which means speaking up and stopping the violence before it happens.
“People in Auburn really believe in this idea of Auburn family, and with Green Dot you really only have to believe two things in this movement: The violence isn’t ok and everyone does their part. And what do families do? We take care of each other, right? So, this is the way to demonstrate who we are as a community and where are values lie. We look out for each other,’’ said McConaha.
Unfortunately, Auburn does see their fair share of violence.
With the city and the college combined, there were 18 robberies from 2016-2017 and 73 assaults.
But, McConaha said even though violence is everywhere, it’s not a normal part of someone’s experience in college. So, they see students really using the tools they learned through the program and applying it when they go out.
That’s why the downtown merchants really wanted to get involved.
“We have hundreds of students downtown everyday and even more that come in at night. So, it’s important that we provide a safe atmosphere for them,” said Jessica Kohn, Downtown Auburn Coordinator.
The owners, managers, and staff at Quixotes, Bourbon St. and 1716 all took the two hour training.
“We believe this is a really powerful initiative that’s taking place right here on campus. So, if we can get the whole community on board with this, I think Auburn in general will be a safer place,” said Kohn.
Kohn hopes more of the downtown merchants will be involved because by taking a more active role in preventing violence, the downtown employees can also make a tremendous impact on the safety of the students.
For more information:
· Safe Harbor (for faculty, staff, and students of Auburn): 334-844-7233
· Rape Counselors of East Alabama: 334-705-0510
· Domestic Violence Intervention Center in Opelika: 1-800-650-6522
And if anyone wants to find more information WE.auburn or request and overview/training, they can find a link on this website: www.auburn.edu/healthandwellness